Mariners 6, Athletics 0

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SEATTLE (AP)—Every five days over the past month, Ryan Franklin has ignored his struggles and focused on his job. What a reward he finally received.

Franklin pitched a two-hitter for his first career complete game and the Seattle Mariners capitalized on six walks by Barry Zito to beat the Oakland Athletics 6-0 on Wednesday night.

Franklin (7-8) was asked where this effort ranked in his career.

“This is No. 1,” he said. “I’ve thrown complete-game shutouts in the minor leagues and no-hitters, but this is the place where you want to perform.”

Randy Winn hit a solo home run and John Olerud drove in four runs for the Mariners, who stretched their lead over Oakland in the AL West to five games.

Franklin finally got some offensive support. His teammates had scored a total of 12 runs in his eight losses this season, but the Mariners delivered for him and posted their major league-leading 11th shutout.

“Ryan’s been good all year, and we finally gave him some runs,” Seattle manager Bob Melvin said. “We gave him a lead early. He had everything working tonight.”

Franklin threw 121 pitches—71 strikes—and faced four batters above the minimum. His previous high was 8 1-3 innings on Sept. 17 against Texas.

“I’ve never won many games only getting two hits,” Oakland manager Ken Macha said. “The kid moved the ball around pretty good—sunk it away, cut it inside. He had pretty good command.”

Franklin’s previous win was June 17 against Anaheim. During his struggles, he never questioned why the Mariners were unable to score runs for him.

“I don’t look at it like that,” he said. “If I go out and do my job, the offense will help me out sooner or later. I’ve said that all year. It was frustrating, but I’ve got a job to do every fifth day.”

Miguel Tejada had a two-out double in fourth and Scott Hatteberg singled with one out in the ninth for the A’s only hits off Franklin. He walked three and struck out three to end his career-high four-game losing streak.

Fans rose to their feet to applaud after the eighth, and catcher Dan Wilson came out to congratulate him when the victory was sealed.

“He threw a shutout, too,” Franklin said. “I shook him off maybe two or three times. Every finger he put down was a good pitch.”

Zito (8-8), meanwhile, tied a career high with his six walks, last done three times as a rookie in 2000. He lost his third straight decision, only the second time the 2002 AL Cy Young winner has lost more than two in a row.

“I’m not happy about it, but then again I’m not going to focus on it,” Zito said. “It’s in the past.”

Zito looked great early, efficiently retiring the first 10 Mariners he faced. Then everything changed when he started missing the strike zone with one out in the fourth, and his troubles followed.

He went six innings, allowing four runs and three hits with five strikeouts. Zito fell to 1-4 over his last nine starts, and he can blame a frustrating, 29-pitch fourth inning.

“Walks killed me tonight,” Zito said. “Sometimes you try to be too fine, and you walk guys.”

The Mariners took advantage, with Carlos Guillen hitting a one-out single to left, moving to third after walks by Bret Boone and Olerud, and scoring to make it 1-0 on a sacrifice fly by Mike Cameron.

Seattle made it 3-0 in the fifth, with Jeff Cirillo and Guillen each scoring after drawing walks. Olerud drove them in with a bases-loaded single that floated over the infield and fell in front of Oakland center fielder Terrence Long.

“I felt good up there,” said Olerud, recovered from a sore hamstring. “I felt good playing Kansas City and Minnesota. A little before the All-Star break, it felt I was swinging the bat good. I just wasn’t getting any hits.”

Winn put the Mariners ahead 4-0 with a first-pitch homer to left leading off the sixth. Seattle added two more runs in the seventh, with Olerud driving inGuillen and Boone after each had walked.

Notes

Oakland pitchers issued a season-high 10 walks. … It was the first game with a new batter’s eye in center. The mammoth black structure is designed to reduce late-evening glare. … Cameron made a diving catch to rob Oakland C Ramon Hernandez of a single in the seventh. … Athletics 3B Eric Chavez robbedspeedy Ichiro Suzuki of an infield single leading off the fourth.

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